Re: [Frameworks] science film query

From: Tony Conrad (email suppressed)
Date: Thu Dec 30 2010 - 17:37:34 PST

Filmmaker Andre Zdravic was a staff member of the Exploratorium in SF for a long

On Thu 12/30/10 12:48 PM , James Cahill email suppressed sent:
> Hi Serge,
> I would second Jennifer's recommendation to look into Oliver Gaycken's
> work. And I suppose it goes without saying -- or perhaps was already said
> -- that Hannah Landecker's essays from Critical Inquiry and Isis on
> scientific filmmaking and classical film theory are key to such a line of
> thinking. Whenever it appears, the promised Caboose edition of Germaine
> Dulac's writings in English translation will do much to fuel this sort of
> thinking, as she was quite fond of insisting on the intimate link between
> these modes of filmmaking ("The science film is unceasing in the great
> education it gives to artists: the education of cinema itself."
> �Le Sens du cinéma,� 1931)
> If you have access to the BFI or Les Docs editions of
> Painlevé's work on dvd (in addition to the Criterion set) you
> will also be able to get your hands on some edu-sci shorts such as Percy
> Smith's wonderful insect and botany films, Eugène-Louis Doyen's
> separation of Siamese twins, and Jean Comandon's botanical films (Paula
> Amad has written on the relation of science film and aesthetics in
> "These Spectacles are Never Forgotten" from Camera Obscura and in
> her new book on the Albert Kahn archives). Altogether that's maybe 12-18
> minutes of film material from 1900-1930s, but a pretty fantastic 12-18
> minutes.
> For some less ecstatic/more institutionally contained educational material,
> check out Valérie Vignaux's book "Jean
> Benoit-Lévy ou le corps comme utopie" which includes a
> dvd featuring a number of his educational and propaganda films from the
> 1930s that could be screened in class with minimal translation. The set
> includes a marvelous short film on hands at work.
> The British charitable organization the Nuffield Foundation had a film unit
> that made a handful of films between 1960-1964 that fit the bill,
> particularly since they managed to hire two students with scientific
> training from the newly formed film program at the Slade to make their
> films: Don Levy and Peter Whitehead.
> Levy's "Time Is" from 1964 is included on the BFI dvd for
> Herostratus. It not only played in the classroom but at happenings. Henry
> K. Miller published a piece on Levy and the Slade School in the BFI booklet
> accompany Levy's films that helps give context to the film and its
> reception.
> Peter Whitehead's "Perception of Life" (possibly a bit more
> difficult to find) from 1964 also was produced for the classroom but had a
> second life in underground film circuits, and makes for a rather
> interesting hors d'�uvre to his better known work. A special issue
> of the journal Framework on Peter Whitehead is set to be published in 2011
> and include a text on "Perception of Life" and the intimate,
> entangled relationship between scientific, educational, and experimental
> filmmaking and modes of viewing these films aesethetically and
> scientifically.
> I presume Gustav Deutsch's "Film Ist" (1998), which draws heavily
> from archives of scientific films, and is available on dvd from Index, is
> on your list films? Tom Gunning has a text included in the booklet
> accompanying the dvd that is quite good.
> On a more contemporary note, Hannah Rose Shell is a filmmaker/scholar (at
> MIT) who has made a number of really engaging videos on the relationship of
> science, experimentation, and aesthetics, and has a number of scholarly
> articles out as well. Mary Billyou also has a neat short film
> "1-9" (ca. 2007) that uses early 20th century footage of subjects
> having epileptic seizures (which she has whited-out) that evokes a lineage
> of scientific and aesthetic research that spans from turn of century
> medical institutions to the physics lab at SUNY Buffalo in the 1960s and
> onward (insert references to Conrad and Sharits but also, and why not,
> Martin Arnold and others).
> Good luck,
> James
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: Serge Levchin email suppressed>Date: Tuesday, December 28, 2010 8:47 pm
> Subject: [Frameworks] science film query
> To: Experimental Film Discussion List
> > Hello FWs -
> > I am trying to put together a proposal for a
> course in film > history, dealing
> > primarily with the evolution of science/research
> and educational film.> Plenty has been written on the general history
> of these relatively > marginalgenres - especially on their origins
> (i.e. on Muybridge, > Marey, etc.) - but
> > I wonder if anyone has done work on any kind of
> cross-breeding between> sci/research/edu film and experimental film (or
> even arthouse film).>
> > Jean Painlevé is the only one
> coming to mind who could be said to > straddleboth domains. A few of Peter
> films > (particularly A Zed and Two
> > Noughts) borrow some themes/techniques from
> research film - in this > casetime-lapse cinematography.
> >
> > (At the risk of saddling Tony Conrad with
> another string of > inanities) I'd
> > love to get some input - both in terms of
> artistic films that > reference the
> > sci/research/edu genres and books/articles that
> deal with such > borrowing. I
> > expect borrowing in the other direction took
> place as well, but > that may be
> > a good deal harder to trace.
> >
> > Also - on the off chance that someone on the
> list knows of major> repositories of sci/research/edu films - I mean
> archives, museums,> hospitals, etc. - from all eras, I would love to
> hear about it as > well. I
> > think I have tracked down the majority of
> commercially available > films.
> > Many many thanks for reading and giving some
> thought to the matter.>
> > happy holidays, and best regards
> > serge
> >
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